Jane Eyre as Feminist Role Model for all Women

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Jane Eyre as Feminist Role Model for all Women In 1837 critic Robert Southey wrote to Charlotte Bronte, "Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it, even as an accomplishment and a recreation," (Gaskell 102). This opinion was not held by only one person, but by many. Indeed, it is this attitude, one that debases women and their abilities, to which Charlotte Bronte responds with Jane Eyre. The purpose of Jane Eyre, not only the novel, but also the character herself as a cultural heroine, is to transform a primeval society, one which devalues women and their contributions, into a nobler order of civilization (Craig 57). The effectiveness of Bronte's argument is due to both her motivation and approach. Bronte found her motivation from the experiences she had undergone while living in the Victorian era. Her approach in advocating social reform is to establish Jane as a model for readers. Readers are meant to examine Jane's life, especially the manner in which she handles problems or confrontations in her relationships, and to follow her example in their own lives. Just as we see Jane as a model of a woman successful in asserting her self-worth, we are also given a warning about the possible outcome of failure to realize self-worth in Bertha Rochester. This facet will also be discussed briefly. Bronte uses the motivation of personal experiences to create the life of Jane Eyre in which we see the quest for social betterment through her relationships. Bronte herself experienced the social ... ... middle of paper ... ...ler civilization that realizes the worth of women. Bibliography Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Penguin Group,1982 Craig, G. Armour. "The Unpoetic Compromise: On the Relationship Between Private Vision and Social Order in the Nineteenth- Century English Fiction." Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism. Ed. L. Harris and E. Tennyson. Michigan: Gale Research Co., 1985. 61-62 Gaskell, E. The Life of Charlotte Bronte. England: E.P. Dutton, Inc., 1975 London, Bette. "The Pleasure of Submission: Jane Eyre and the Production of the Text." "ELH." Spring 1991. 195-213 Schact, Paul. "Jane Eyre and the History of Self-Respect." "Modern Language Quarterly." Dec 1991. 423-53 Sienkewicz, Anne W. "Jane Eyre An Autobiography." Masterplots II. Ed. Frank Magill. California: Salem Press, 1991. 745-748

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